Posts for the 'Other locations' Category


Victor’s Gourmet Restaurant – Perl-Nennig, Germany

Schloss Berg

Schloss Berg

I have been looking forward to my meal at Chef Christian Bau’s Victor’s Gourmet Restaurant for many days now – months in fact. Some foodies consider it one of the best, if not the best, restaurant in Europe right now, and the excitement I felt in the lead up to this meal was palpable – “three more sleeps, two more sleeps, one more sleep…”Its the main reason behind why I came to Germany – the pièce de résistance of my short culinary tour of this country.

The restaurant is situated in a town called Perl-Nennig, with the closest major city being Luxembourg City which is about a 30 minute drive away. The restaurant is housed in a quaint white castle called Schloss Berg, but for whatever reason, a casino was added as an extension to it in what looks like a glass monstrosity that is incongruous with the otherwise lovely white stone facade.

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Dieter Müller – Cologne, Germany

Schloss Lerbach

Schloss Lerbach

Dieter Müller is one of the best known chefs in Germany and his namesake restaurant was next on my list during my stay in Cologne. A three star Michelin restaurant, it is housed in a beautiful Relais & Châteaux Hotel called Schloss Lerbach, which like Gut Lärchenhof, is about 16km from the centre of Cologne. Dieter Müller retired as head chef of the restaurant last year and now only acts as its patron. Into his place has stepped Nils Henkel. For better or for worse, I had no illusions that the restaurant would be the same as when Dieter was there. But it was going to be interesting to discover how the restaurant fared given that the chef whose name upon which the fame of the restaurant was founded is no longer in full time service.

Schloss Lerbach is a beautiful, grandiose building housed in lovely lush grounds. The restaurant itself is a statement in formality. It’s classically elegant, if a little old fashioned, and overlooks the gardens which are made all the more visible by the tall glass windows that line the length of its walls. The windows also serve to let in lots of natural light, which on this nice sunny day made me feel as if I was dining in a garden paradise.

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Gut Lärchenhof – Pulheim-Stommeln, Germany

Restaurant Gut Lärchenhof

Restaurant Gut Lärchenhof

After a dry spell in the ‘good food department’ in Croatia and Bosnia, I was desperately in need of a nice meal. My taste buds demanded it. And so I found myself in Cologne, Germany, with the priority being to eat. First on the agenda was Gut Lärchenhof, a one star Michelin restaurant situated in the village of Pulheim-Stommeln which is about 16km from the centre of Cologne. What is most interesting about this restaurant’s location is not where it is, but the fact that it is housed in a golf course, one that was designed by Jack Nicholas.

Some of you might think it odd that I would make the effort to venture to a golf course for a reason other than golf, and even if you didn’t, I will hold my hand up and admit that I did spend a short moment in quiet reflection trying to decide if I was indeed ‘odd’. But I have never been shy about going to extreme lengths in pursuit of a good meal (and indeed I have had some harebrained escapades- but that is a story for another time). Besides, I was intrigued by this place, which after some internal debate, I choose over Zur Traube, a two star Michelin restaurant also situated in the Cologne area. Interestingly, despite having one less star, Gut Lärchenhof holds 18 Gault Millau points, the same as Zur Traube. But Gut Lärchenhof is itself expecting a second star in the upcoming year, and restaurants such as these, hungry for that extra star, often have something to prove. Consequently, I believe they often provide excellent dining experiences.

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Gil’s – Dubrovnik, Croatia

Gil's Cuisine & Pop Lounge

Gil's Cuisine & Pop Lounge

I have to admit that I felt rather sad when I left Sicily. I had a marvellous time there, and despite all my moaning about the heat, I found the sunshine extremely soothing for the soul. So my parting meal at Palermo airport, if you could even call it that, was a big fat cannolo, even though after about my eighth one I vehemently swore I would not eat another. To me the humble cannolo, which can be found throughout Sicily, was a symbol of what made my time there so great. And this one at the airport tasted the best of the lot. Why is food, when touched with a twinge of nostalgia, always extra good? Barely two hours after leaving Sicily I was yearning for the taste of that cannolo again.

But new experiences were to be had, some unwanted. On my arrival in Split, Croatia, my luggage went AWOL. Croatian Airlines blamed the Italian luggage handlers and were rather unhelpful during the whole episode. There were no reassurances from them that my bag would be recovered. In fact they suggested that it might never resurface at all. But it did, although it would take two pretty stressful days. What I discovered during that time was how little you actually need.

After Split I headed to Dubrovnik. The bus route hugs the coast all the way, and the scenery was truly amazing – cliff edge precipices married with pristine waters and lush green islands. But greeting Dubrovnik for the first time at night was something else. Wave after wave of stone make up the Old Town walls, and when lit up in lights, it is truly a spectacle to behold. I will never forget the adulation I felt the moment I first laid eyes on those walls.

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Restaurant Michel & Sébastien Bras

Creamed egg with chive oil & views over Laguiole

Creamed egg with chive oil & views over Laguiole

I once swore that I would never go back to Rodez.

It happened in July 2006 when I was due to fly to Toulon in Provence on Ryanair. Missing my flight by the skin of my teeth, I weighed up all my various options, these being to change my flight to an alternative destination, or to come back the following day for the next flight to Toulon. Faced with the daunting prospect of having to travel out to Stansted Airport again, I decided that an element of adventure and daring was called for. And so I decided to fly to an unheard of destination in Southern France, somewhere I thought would be close to Toulon, and make my way overland instead.

Well that particular destination was Rodez. Standing at the Ryanair customer services counter and peering into the destinations map, the distance between Rodez and Toulon did not appear so far. But as I was to find out soon enough, maps on walls can be rather deceptive.

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Claude’s French Restaurant

One of the great things about dining out in restaurants in Australia is the BYO concept (bring your own). It is quite commonplace in Australia, although at the higher end of the dining scale, a corkage fee is usually charged. BYO makes dining out more affordable and of course ensures that your choice of wine is available. And should you forget to bring your own bottle or simply wish for only a cheeky glass, most restaurants have a wine list too. When dining out at a pricey establishment, this can help to ease the final heartache of the bill whilst allowing you to maintain certain dining standards.

So it was with this in mind that my sister and I tried to decide on which fine dining restaurants we wanted to feast at whilst I was in Sydney. However, we are both born with a foodie DNA, and both quite particular (although some might choose to say fussy). So indecision struck, despite a revamped approach to our dining budget, and I was left to busily browse through the Sydney Good Food Guide (2009) to try and secure a restaurant for a Friday night. Fumbling, I finally stumbled across the entry for Claude’s French Restaurant.

Claude’s French Restaurant opened in 1976, and as one might deduce from the name, serves French cuisine. I last visited Claude’s some ten years ago when it was revered as a destination restaurant. Since then it has placed a new head chef at the helm, so the Claude’s of yesteryear is no more. According to the Sydney Good Food Guide, the new chef Chui Lee Luk is the leading female chef in Australia, ‘bringing vigour and a new level of experimentation to the food’. Surely this promised to be one of the top restaurants in Sydney? My expectations were high and we set off with our own bottle in tow.

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Auberge de L’ill: A starry night

As part of the planning for this road trip, I trawled through the Michelin website. Within about a thirty-five kilometre radius of Munster there were some fifteen or so Michelin-starred restaurants. Sigh, which one to choose? Do I choose on the basis of geography, how good the food looks on the restaurants’ websites or how nice the people are to me when they answer the phone? Uncertain, I read each and every restaurant description, one by one. Next were the emails to my friend. “Here are numbers one to eight, others to follow. I liked number three best but number eight looked great too. What do you think?” and so it went. Curiously most were one-star, until I got to number twelve on the list, Auberge de L’ill. Interestingly, this was a three star. What could set it so distinctly apart from all the others? Was this the Sirius Star in a constellation of restaurants? Well that settled that. A decision was made.

The banks of the River L’ill

The banks of the River L’ill

Auberge de L’ill is so named for it lies on the banks of the River L’ill in Alsace, Eastern France. Established in 1878 and famed for the finest of fine Alsatian cuisine (and by some accounts, the best restaurant in Eastern France), it has been an outpost for the creations of many generations of the Haeberlin family. So it was with awe that I stepped onto the path that led us to the key address of this family dynasty. As the door swung open I was simply stunned.

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Caveau D’Eguisheim: The sun shines in Eguisheim

My first taste of the Alsace region of France was Eguisheim, which we approached from La Route des Crêtes (the Crest Road). This route runs through one of the oldest mountain ranges in France and gives you some amazing panoramic views, some as far as the Black Forest.

<em>La Route des Crêtes</em> (the Crest Road)

La Route des Crêtes (the Crest Road)

We’d come to Eguisheim in the Alsace for the sole purpose of this little restaurant that I’d discovered in the Michelin guide. I was particularly drawn to the description which mentioned that the restaurant was once the home of a former winegrower. ‘Quaint’, I thought, and I do adore quaint. So of course we had to come. See, some people choose where to travel to and then pick the restaurants, or even go with the flow. Not me. I’ve to choose which restaurants I want to eat at and then pick the route. So to Eguisheim we went. Eguisheim was probably on of those places I would’ve never thought to visit for the sheer fact that it has never registered in my radius of knowledge. However, it turned out to be wonderfully delightful. A medieval village surrounded by the mountains, there are German influences throughout given both its proximity to Germany and that for long periods in history was under German occupation. It has now been beautifully restored to resemble a kaleidoscope of colours and on the first day of real sunshine on our driving trip thus far, it was truly picture postcard perfect.

Egusheim: Picture postcard perfect

Egusheim: Picture postcard perfect

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